Here is a tiny gem from the Sierra Nevada range. Erigeron pygmaeus is a high elevation daisy usually found above tree line on exposed screes. It has a limited distribution from eastern CA and extremely western NV.
I came across this intensely colored little daisy while hiking up Slide Mountain just south of Reno. I was seeking Eriogonum lobbii to photograph and for some reason I was distracted from my goal when the corner of my eye caught a flash of purple.
This plant is all of 2.5" (6.3 cm)across and 1.5" (3.8 cm)tall in flower. The gray subspatulate foliage 1/2" (1.2 cm) tall. The stout tap root is about 4"-6" (10.6 - 15.25 cm) long.
The color of the Phyllaries is one of the easyest keys to identification. They are purplish with a little green showing toward the midway point.
John, what a lucky find, and a wonderful alpine fleabane, among the finest in the genus. One can get to the CalPhotos link via the USDA link you provided, but here it is directly, just look at these two pages of images, my favorite is the last on on the second page showing an uprooted plant with the thick woody caudex.
Have you, or any other NARGS forumist, grown this species in the rock garden?
I haven't grown it yet but hope to remedy the situation. I moved seven young plants into the garden this summer. So far they seem to be doing alright.
Do you have seed this year?
Sorry the little I was able to gather is already spoken for. I went back up three weeks after I saw it in flower and almost all of the seed had dispersed. I just managed to collect a little by looking on the leeward side of some boulders.
I did however collect a lot of Eriogonum lobbii seed and you should see that in the exchange this year. ;D
A charmer for sure! Amazing that nothing else is growing there- is it an early colonising species, or is this just an extreme spot that can't support any plant density?